Employees Use Gift Cards to Shoplift

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A thief's best friend. Photo: istockphoto

Good news, everyone! If you work retail, the Times informs us of a new way to steal from your employer: Use gift cards. How crafty. It's apparently the hottest way to shoplift. As our klepto urges faded once the nineties came to an end, we find this intriguing. Just how do these schemes work? "Among the variations of such crimes, cashiers often do fake refunds of merchandise and then, with the amount refunded, use their registers to electronically fill gift cards, which they take. Or sometimes when shoppers buy gift cards, cashiers give them blank cards and then divert the shoppers’ money onto cards for themselves." Now we know. And knowing is half the battle.

But this method is not without its risks. You can and will get busted, like that one woman who stole $135,000 from Saks using gift cards. Or a Best Buy cashier who took $600. The article points out that some schemes are more complicated, like using computers to divert cash onto fraudulently activated cards, ripping off one store to the tune of $35,000. For all the anti-theft measures stores have in place to prevent customers from stealing, it seems employee theft is a way bigger issue. Using that discount for your mom's holiday purchases doesn't seem like that big a deal now, does it?

Shoplifters? Studies Say Keep an Eye on Workers [NYT]